Blix Vika+ electric bike review: Foldable, affordable, high quality transport for urban commuters

Many commute a few miles to work from within cities and the Blix Vika+ may be the perfect, affordable solution for those looking to minimize storage requirements while offering flexibility with a modular racking system.

E-motorcycle hits S.F. streets CNET News reporter Mats Lewan takes the brand new Zero S electric motorcycle for a test drive in downtown San Francisco. Currently, electric scooter-style and offroad bikes can be used on the streets. But the Zero S can reach up to 60 mph, and its creator, Zero Motorcycles, says it's the first electric high-performance street motorcycle that's ready to ship.

Since the city provides very little parking for commuter train riders, I recently purchased the Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X to make sure I made it to the Sounder train station safely as I rode with traffic through the city. A couple of months ago I saw a folding commuter bike that piqued my interest with good looks, a high capacity battery, and an affordable price.

Last month Blix sent along the Vika+ electric bike for me to test out and while it is not going to work out for my particular commuting needs it is a great solution for those who live in the city with limited storage volume and those who at times need to carry a lot without access to a car.

The Blix Vika+ is an attractive and well-built electic bike with the ability to fold into a 36 x 28.5 x 21 inches size so you can put it in a closet under the stairs or pack it into the back of your electric small vehicle. I thought it might be a good solution to reduce storage needed in my garage and then also carry onto the commuter train for that last mile commute to the office. It turns out, it's not so good for a mobile commuter who wants to carry the bike for some distance and keep up with traffic on public roads.

See also: Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X electric bike review: The complete commuter experience

The Blix Vika+ offers a lot of high end features and outstanding build quality for a price less than $1,700, which is a great price for a bike that doesn't even have the folding capability. If the bike was a bit faster or 20 pounds lighter then I might consider it for my specific commuting needs.

Specifications

  • Frame: Aluminum alloy
  • Motor size: 500 watt geared rear hub motor
  • Pedal Assist: Shimano 7-speed with full throttle, no assist mode
  • Range: Up to 45 miles
  • Top speed: 20 mph with throttle or pedal assist
  • Battery capacity: Samsung 48V 14Ah, 25,000 miles battery lifetime rating
  • Charge time: 5 hours
  • Lights: Wired headlight and LED tail light with brake activation
  • Payload capacity: 270 pounds
  • Integrated storage capacity: Rear rack and connection for front rack
  • Brakes: Tektro Aries Mechanical disc with 160mm rotors
  • Fenders: Front and rear provided
  • Tires: Puncture resistant
  • Bike weight: 54.8 pounds (battery alone is 7 pounds)

Hardware

My first electric bike was the RadCity and one of the primary reasons for purchasing that bike was the low cost. It was built well, but also came with some elements that were not high quality and not very elegant, such as cables running all over the place and excessive frame elements that made it very heavy. For the reasonable $1,699 price I figured the Blix Vika+ would just be of acceptable quality. I was pleased to see that I was wrong as Blix was able to create a very well built bike that felt sturdy, looked fantastic in racing green, and was able to handle my 250 pound frame and added 20 pound pack with ease.

The Blix Vika+ is available in racing green, black, and cream so I was very pleased to be able to test out the green model. The frame, rear rack, and fenders are all painted green while the leather handgrips and seat are contrasted in light brown color. Overall, it looks fantastic on the road.

The Blix Vika+ has a step-through design, just 21 inches in height, that lets you easily position your legs on each side of the bike. The wheels and tires are 20 inches that your handlebar stem and seat post are quite long for taller riders. Fenders are attached to the bike in the box with front and rear lights wired to the battery. Every other bike I have tried has the rear light powered with separate batteries so it's great to see the rechargeable battery pack keeping the lights on here. The rear LED light also has brake light capability so it gets brighter when you activate the brakes.

The cables for power, shifting, and lighting are all wrapped together in order to support the folding design. This helps give the bike a clean look with reasonable cable management, something less expensive electric bikes fail to provide in most cases.

There is a bolt you loosen on the handlebar post so that the handlebars above the front forks rotate down to the side. You then release the secondary securing clasp and main flip-over clasp to separate the frame just in front of the main sprocket. The bike then folds over on itself and is supposed to stay secure with a very small magnet at the center of the front and rear wheel. I found this magnetic securing mechanism to be the weakest part of this folding bike as the magnet was weak and the bike constantly flopped around while I tried carrying the folded bike more than a few yards. Some kind of clasp mechanism or more substantial magnetic system would have been much better and might have swayed my opinion a bit about the utility of the Vika+.

The battery is secured behind the seat post tube so is secured out of the way. Two keys are provided for releasing the battery, but for my testing I kept it in place and charged the bike with the battery attached to the bike. There is a lever under the seat to position it vertically for easy battery removal too.

Behind the battery you will find an integrated rear rack over the tire and rear fender. The taillight is secured under the rear rack and there are a couple of bungie cords attached for securing small gear on the rear rack. You can also purchase accessories, such as the Blix Top Rack Bag ($89) that I tested during my evaluation period. The Blix Vika+ is designed to be modular with the ability to attach plenty of things to the front or bike of the bike. The pedals can be folded up to make the package a bit more compact for storage, yet work well as a stable platform for riding the bike.

See also: RadCity electric commuter bike review: Affordable, urban, green, and just plain fun

The Vika+ has a 500W hub motor and while it limits you to 20 miles per hour with assist or throttle action, I was also able to maintain a slightly faster speed (12 mph) on my uphill return commute when compared to other electric bikes I have tested. The hub, battery, and transmission system are more than adequate for most people with a rated range of up to 45 miles on a single charge.

The rotating 7-speed gear changer was easy to manipulate while the left side throttle button activated by your thumb helps to get off the stop line quickly and safely. I love having the ability to supplement pedal assist with throttle power for getting started and would never consider a bike without throttle capability.

Blix provides a large grayscale LED with numbers that are easily visible while riding the bike. The display is not removable, but can be angled to your preference. There is a USB-A port below the display if you want to power a phone or other accessory too.

Price

The Blix Vika+ is available now for $1,699 with a current offer to get $200 off when you buy two bikes. The bike comes with everything you need to get started and even includes free shipping.

There are lots of optional accessories you can add to enhance your electric bike experience, but with the integrated lights, charger, and rear rack you can just purchase this bike and be off and running.

Experiences with the Blix Vika+

The Blix Vika+ was much more impressive out of the box than I expected for such an affordable foldable electric bike. If my city had bike lanes and didn't require that I ride in the road with cars, then I might seriously consider the Vika+ for my daily commute. I quickly learned there is not much benefit to fold it and carry it on the train since it still takes up lots of space and cannot be carried for more than a few yards before separating and becoming difficult to handle.

For those that live in small apartments in the city, the Blix Vika+ may be the perfect commuting bike. With the ability to expand it into a modular carrier, you can use it in the city to move a lot around. If you have a small car and do not want to add a bike carrier, the Vika+ may also serve as a good bike for these folks.

Overall, I was very pleased with the quality and performance of the Blix Vika+. With the right setup, it is a perfect solution for commuters and also available at a very reasonable price.